Sarah and Gwen: the Two-Headed Monster

This blog is about everything involving Lexington, KY or anything else we feel like yapping about.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Treading Water?

Instead of the veto I was expecting from Mayor Isaacs, she has chosen to make a counter offer to RWE. There has been speculation that her reasons for doing this are related the possibility that Councilman Wiggington would change his vote on the issue yet again. It is true that a change of position by Wiggington would give the council the necessary nine votes to override a veto by the mayor. The Mayor's demands are certainly a better deal for Lexington than the offer negotiated by Vice Mayor Scanlon. However, Mayor's attempt to tread water on this one could leave Lexington to drown. RWE is known for making unethical if not illegal contributions to politicians favorable to their interests. We cannot afford to allow a necessary utility to be run by people who routinely buy influence in local politics.

I intend to keep a close eye on what goes on with Lexington's interaction with RWE over the next few months. I would still prefer to see the issue on the ballot. But I can understand the Mayor's reservations about using veto power when Councilman Wiggingtion's commitment to the city's condemnation plan is wavering.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Why does Local Ownership of Water Matter?

A lot of people in Lexington don't care about who owns the water company. Water is water right? When you turn on the tap it flows. As long as it works there is no need to fix it, right?

NOT right! In fact it is dead wrong. Less than 2% of the world's water is drinkable. Industrial pollutants reduce that amount a fraction of a percentage point every year. There is speculation that within your lifetime water is going to trade the way oil does in the marketplace. Much of the water we drink today comes off the shelf in a supermarket rather than out of the tap in our kitchen sinks. Think about it. " Who owns the water?" may be the most important question of our generation.

Washout on Local Ownership of the Water Company

Those who attended the first LFUCG Council meeting with our newly elected council members were given their first taste of what it means to have a council overly influenced by one powerful business. Now that hefty campaign contributions from Kentucky American Water has assisted several new council members into office, those members assisted Kentucky American water with "No" votes placing condemnation proceedings on the ballot. In my opinion, that is not a bad return on their investment.

Last night's meeting was a return engagement of the Kentucky American Water Council. George Brown, Bill Farmer Jr., Ed Lane, Jay McChord, George Myers, Mike Scanlon, Kevin Stinnet and (our Councilman) Bill Cegelka voted once again to terminate legal proceedings in the case to condemn Kentucky American Water. Only Councilman Jacques Wiggington changed his vote on the issue. Wiggington believes the city should get a better deal than the one Vice Mayor Scanlon secretly arranged.

I expect Mayor Isaacs to veto the council vote. Thankfully, an 8-7 majority to end condemnation is not sufficient to accomplish the task if the Mayor uses her veto power. Wiggington's change of mind could mean the final council vote comes down to him. I can only hope he uses this new power in the best interest of the citizens he represents.

I will not speculate on why Vice Mayor Scanlon took it upon himself to agree to a deal with Kentucky American Water that is even less favorable than the terms the water company offered earlier. I will not suggest that the billboards Kentucky American Water displays showing what the costs to taxpayers are a decoy for the rate increase they have given consumers to cover their own costs in this lengthy battle. What I will say is that the council is wrong to take this out of the hands of the voters of Lexington.

If Scanlon really believes this is the best course of action let him make his case to the public. Convince all of us that it is right, and do so in the light of day instead of making back room deals with foreign investors. Kentucky American Water has lost its ties to Kentucky and America. The owners have no direct interest in Lexington's water supply. They are not dependent upon the water supply in Lexington, the citizens are, and it is our interest to have the final decision on this issue. Condemnation of a utility as basic to life as water may be the only way to protect it, if not, Scanlon has the duty to show us exactly how his method is better.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

What Values does Senator Alice Forgy-Kerr Hold?

I have to ask this question, because the Kentucky state senator for my district campaigned hard on "family values" and threw around a lot of words like "honesty" and "integrity" while she was campaigning. Actions, however, often speak louder than words. This past week, her actions included voting to seat Dana Seum Stephenson in the contested 37th Senate District seat. If our senator really held the values she espouses, she would have voted against the seating of Ms. Stephenson, who has admitted to being a cheat and a fraud.

Stephenson established residency in Indiana in order to take advantage of in-state tuition rates. She lived and voted there, drove with an Indiana driver’s license. In short, she moved to Indiana to complete her education. Those of us who have attended college understand the advantages of paying in-state tuition and certainly cannot fault her for wanting to pay the lowest cost for her education. But as citizens of Kentucky, we cannot allow her to claim she is entitled to be a citizen of both states at the same time.

It is an act of dishonesty on the part of Ms. Stephenson to file for the state senate race when she knew she did not meet the residency requirements. Our constitution is very clear on this matter: senate seats are only open to those meeting the age and residency requirements.

Ms. Stephenson has tried to sidestep the residency requirement by claiming to have frequently slept at her mother's house. This is not good enough, nor is it good enough for Senate Republicans to claim that they have the right to ignore the constitution, the courts, and the state election board. We must hold all of them accountable for the flagrant disregard of truth, honor, and the rule of law.

Perhaps, Stephenson didn't know the rules when she filed for the office, but her behavior since has left us with a dilemma. She is either guilty of fraud in Kentucky or Indiana, and one or both states should be seeking to prosecute her for her actions.

Kentuckians should be looking closely at the honesty and integrity of every member of the state senate and taking notes. The next time Senator Kerr talks about values, I will certainly be there to remind her of how easily hers were cast aside in favor of political power.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Good-bye 2004

I cannot say I am sorry to be saying good-bye to 2004. Politically, 2004 was one of the most emotional years I have ever lived through. Many of my neighbors are still rejoicing over the election of George W. Bush to the presidency of the United States.

I mourn.

One of my co-workers actually told me I should not take the election personally. She was wrong. This election was as personal as it gets. It is not possible to strip a citizen of civil liberties or deny equality and civil rights impersonally. It is not possible to recall long retired military personnel and extend the length of service of others impersonally. And it is not possible to wage an impersonal war.

The disgrace of this election will haunt us for years, perhaps beyond my lifetime, and it is very personal.

My state voted overwhelmingly to change our constitution. Voters made it constitutional to pretend that my wife and I are not married. Make no mistake: this law does nothing to protect marriage. It is a legal fiction designed for the express purpose of denying us the rights other married couples take for granted. I fail to see what is impersonal about placing a constitutional amendment on the ballot because fear of me was a great way to get bigots to the polls.

To those of you who mourn this election as I do, I ask two things: don't stop taking it personally, and don't stop working to regain the ground we have lost.